Detective Pikachu is a movie about a little Pikachu solving big city crimes, all Sherlock Holmes-like (he's got the cap and everything). I think we can all agree that's a great premise. Where we might diverge, however, is on our opinions of the person chosen to give voice to Pikachu in the movie's upcoming English adaptation: Ryan Reynolds.
Fans' reactions to the news hasn't been happy or angry as much as simply baffled.
"Ryan Reynolds to Star in Pokemon Movie 'Detective Pikachu'" pic.twitter.com/FgTZPufMYo— Britton Peele (@BrittonPeele) December 7, 2017
I'm inclined to agree. On a short list of possible choices that included Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Hugh Jackman, we got … Ryan Reynolds. Why, though?
Now, like 99% of planet Earth, I wanted Pikachu to be brought to life by Danny DeVito. I knew that'd probably never happen; it was just a fun wish, one of those things you toss out in hopes Nintendo and / or The Pokémon Company will respond "We hear you, and we obey." As we all well know by now, Nintendo typically choses to do things its own way, and now we have Reynolds as our Detective Pikachu.
I like Reynolds. I think he's a cool guy and a good actor. My problem with him as Pikachu is that he's a safe bet. I know that's a funny thing to say about the guy who's become synonymous with Deadpool, one of the comic industry's most R-rated superheroes (though Deadpool certainly dabbles deeply in anti-heroism, too). Let's just say there's nothing particularly interesting or jarring about hearing Reynold's voice come out of Pikachu's mouth.
People wanted DeVito as Pikachu because his gravelly voice and tendency to be typecast as tactless, rough characters that personify the Big City gels perfectly with the very concept of a Pikachu out of its element. Even though Pokémon Sun and Moon demonstrates humans and Pokémon live side-by-side and help each other out, there's something a little extra grimy about a Pikachu talking directly to humans in English (or Japanese) while pounding the pavement and solving crimes.
Detective Pikachu needs to project his big attitude through a big voice—preferably one that carries a suggestion of chain-smoking, even if that's not a habit we're going to behold on the big screen for obvious reasons. Bringing a tough, street-wise Pikachu to life is a job for Jackman, Johnson, or the aforementioned DeVito. Not Reynolds.
Hell, let's get Tom Waits on this.
Eh, too far. I guess.
Another reason Pikachu's voice needs a suggestion of an edge: Alex Hirsch is one of the movie's screenwriters. Hirsch's Gravity Falls cartoon series is infamous for using dark humor to push at Disney's G-rating. And to do that, you need some appropriate character voices backing you up.
I'm still looking very forward to Detective Pikachu, and I know Reynolds will put in a good performance. The world is bloated with sin and trouble, and I imagine whenever Detective Pikachu finally lands, I'll throw myself at its feet and weep in thankfulness for any scrap of light and innocence. DeVito or no DeVito.